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At this stage it was still along the lines of a traditional bio-doc.My co-producer encouraged me to shoot footage with me in them, and conversations around the project were becoming more related to me and how interesting my discovery was.On this research trip I discovered that bizarrely it was my Grandfathers centenary year and there was to be an hommage event at the Theatre National.I was working as a producer in London and thought it would be a good idea to make a short biography on his life, given the relationship between France and Tunisia for French Television while learning about his career.
That’s when I and the key people involved in the project knew it knew it could be developed into a feature doc.
Can you take us chronologically through the story, when you found out about your grandfather’s “secret” life and when you decided to make this a cinematic journey where we, the audience, could come along on the discovery with you?
Claire Belhassine: It began when I found out that my Grandfather whom I’d know as a child was a national treasure, a superstar in Tunisia. I heard his music in a taxi then I met a Franco/Tunisian producer who had interviewed him in the 60’s.
I thought I could turn this around in about 6 months -- 10 years later the film was ready!
So the first shoot was filming his centenary event which was pretty spectacular to see this packed theatre, all clapping and singing songs I had never heard before.